Thursday, January 31, 2008

Racheypoo Review: Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

Recently, a friend of mine decided that she and her hubby could not possibly eat all the cupcakes that she likes to bake. So, she asked for applications from potential tasters. I jumped at the chance to taste the amazing confections she creates.

Today, I received a package of cupcakes and a letter letting me know that I have moved on to the second round of the selection process. The next step is for me to eat the cupcakes (yay!) and review them on my blog. Then, I guess CB will make the selection from there.
So, I give you a Racheypoo Review of Snickerdoodle Cupcakes:
The delivery:
The cupcakes came sans frosting individually shrink wrapped and in a four pack bakery box. There was a seperate ziploc containing the frosting which was cool but not firm enough to pipe. I placed it in the fridge to chill a bit further while I inspected the actual cakes.

The cupcakes had a fragrant aroma first of cinnamon followed by butter and vanilla. They smelled sweet, but not overly so. The frosting smelled sweeter and I could definitely pick up on the cream cheese undertones but it was also cinnamonny (if that's even a word)!
The cakes were the correct height in the cup. The tops were slight shiny, as cupcakes tend to be. The tops were springy and bounced back when I applied light pressure with my finger.

The application of the frosting was simple though I think I could have let the topping chill for another twenty minutes or so (but I was hungry for the cuppycakes!). I did refer to the original blog post about the cupcakes to see how firm the frosting should be and it looked close so I proceeded.

On first bite, I was surprised how moist the cake was, especially considering they had been shipped the day before. The cream cheesy, cinnamon-sweet frosting was the perfect compliment to the cake as the cuppy had a more subtle sweetness. It left a pleasant aftertaste, obviously made with all natural ingredients. The second and third bites were just as yummy. There was not a forth bite because the third bite was extra large. :) I truly enjoyed the cinnamon and vanilla flavors with the buttery undertones.
The cupcakes were smooth, yet moist and they weren't crumby or falling all over the place. The frosting was really creamy smooth with just little bits of texture from the cinnamon sprinkles. Overall, a simply, pleasing texture.
Bottom-line: The cupcake tasted exactly how I think a snickerdoodle cupcake should taste, possibly even better!
On a scale of 1-5 sprinkle hearts, I give it

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Foodie oopsie.

When I posted a couple weeks ago about the foodie gifts I got for Christmas, I inadvertantly left out two wonderful gifts from two wonderful friends. I received both of these gifts well before the holidays so by the time I got around to posting my Christmas gift blog, I'd already been using or had eaten my gift up!

I don't have a picture since I ate them but fellow foodie and knottie, Dawn, sent me the yummiest pears I've ever tasted. The hubs only got to eat one because I chomped and slurped all the rest of them down in just a few days. Thankfully, I didn't get a tummy ache! Thank you so much Dawn for the awesome pears. We really did enjoy them. :)

The other gift I didn't mention, which I used everysinglefreakingday is my awesome salt and pepper mill shakers. They are the tiniest/cutest grinders ever!

Thanks to one of my BFFs, AZ for these awesome shakers. I should also give a shout out to the Poached Pear, the totally adorable store that they came from (which has no website?!). ::must resist spending all dollars at PP::

Thanks girls! Much love!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Not quite right...

Tonight I made this (with chicken) for dinner. Things did not go so well. I didn't have any oregano or parsley on hand (which seems crazy) so I used Italian Seasonings. They turned black in the pan which was the least of my worries since the butter started to burn and stink. I thought maybe it was fine but the sauce didn't look creamy enough so I added more cream cheese. Big mistake! I ended up with burnt butter flavored chunky cream cheese sauce.

Overall, it was not so good. I didn't even take a pic. The hubs was a sweetie and wolfed it down. He even said it was good. But, I think he was starving since he had just walked in the door from arena soccer. He scored four goals! His official grade was an A-. I bet if I didn't scorch the dairy, he'd have given it a solid A!

They're here!!

My online purchase of vanilla beans came today! I don't know if I can wait until this weekend to make something vanillicious. I'm stoked!

Off to start dinner... more later!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Garlic Cheddar Chicken

I saw this recipe on my friend April's blog and knew I had to make it. We eat chicken several times a week and a person can only stomach so much baked lemon pepper chicken. I basically doubled the recipe, though not exactly. My alterations are in parenthesis.

Recipe from Katorade. Pictures from my kitchen!

Garlic Cheddar Chicken
2 tablespoons butter (doubled to 4)
1 clove garlic, minced (I did not double)
3 tablespoons dry bread crumbs (I used Italian seasoned breadcrumbs and doubled to 6)
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese (doubled to 4)
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano (omitted)
1/8 teaspoon dried parsley (omitted)
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper (omitted)
1/8 teaspoon salt (omitted)
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - pounded thin (I used 6)

Notes: I omitted the spices since I used seasoned bread crumbs. I also used 6 chicken breast halves as I knew that the hubs would eat 2 and I would eat 1, thus leaving the perfect amount for leftovers tomorrow! Even though I used more chicken than the recipe called for, I still had plenty of bread crumb mixture to coat it. I did scoop out a good amount of the garlic chunks before drizzling on top. I didn't want to bite into a blob of garlic.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, and cook the garlic until tender about 5 minutes.
In a shallow bowl, mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Cheddar cheese, and spices (if you used them).
Dip each chicken breast in the garlic butter to coat, then press into the bread crumb mixture. Arrange the coated chicken breasts in a 9x13 baking dish.
Drizzle with any remaining butter and top with any remaining bread crumb mixture.
Bake 30 minutes in preheated oven or until chicken is no longer pink and juice run clear.

REVIEW: This is one of the best chicken dishes I've made in a long time. The coating had the perfect amount of cheese and crunch. The hubs gave it an A and asked if it could be on the "regular rotation." I think I may take the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. :)

100 things about me!

I am stealing this idea from my friend CB. I will begin with 50 things about me. Once I have time to think of 50 more, I'll post 50-100. Have fun!

  1. My name is Rachel.
  2. My car has a dent in the front fender (on both sides).
  3. Neither dent was my fault.
  4. I love cheese.
  5. I like beer.
  6. I wear a small lift in my right shoe.
  7. I am the oldest of 7 kids.
  8. It's a blended family.
  9. I'll finish my college degree in March.
  10. I'm freaking stoked about it.
  11. I love to tell jokes.
  12. Even ones that aren't that funny.
  13. I have an accent that sneaks out sometimes.
  14. I grew up in the 'burbs near Dallas/Ft. Worth.
  15. I have a tattoo.
  16. No, you can't see it.
  17. I drink at least two cups of hot tea everyday.
  18. I prefer black/green tea mixes or a breakfast blend.
  19. I collect tea-for-ones.
  20. I am in love with vintage and antique dishes and cookware.
  21. I love baking.
  22. I am not a fan of chocolate.
  23. I love fruity flavors.
  24. I love vanilla.
  25. I like to eat fish.
  26. But, I don't eat any shellfish.
  27. I am sentimental.
  28. I cry at sappy commercials.
  29. I love my in-laws.
  30. I want all my siblings to move to CA.
  31. I've never been to New York.
  32. But, I want to go.
  33. I sleep with my hair in a ponytail.
  34. I hate to wear socks.
  35. Especially at night.
  36. I love the beach.
  37. I don't like getting in the ocean.
  38. I'm scared of dogs I don't know.
  39. I want a dog.
  40. I can't have one because of our rental agreement.
  41. I admit to liking country music.
  42. But, not all of it.
  43. My first concert was Amy Grant
  44. My second concert was Janet Jackson – Rhythm Nation.
  45. I had a "Big Sister" through Big Brothers and Sisters growing up.
  46. We are still close friends.
  47. It's been 22 years since we met.
  48. I like sock monkeys.
  49. I like to knit.
  50. I'm not very good at it though.

51-100 to follow...someday.

Follow the leader...

A couple friends posted this fun survey on their blogs and of course, I just had to follow suit. Quack, quack!

Four Things
Four things about me that you may or may not have known in no particular order.

Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Giant frog mascot for a waterpark.
2. Grocery store cashier
3. Dr. Office admin person
4. Party Planner
(none of these are my current job.)

Four movies I would watch over and over:
1. Bridget Jones Diary
2. The Big Lebowski (thanks to the hubs for that one)
3. Rushmore
4. Wizard of Oz

Four places I have lived:
1. Euless, TX
2. Arlington, TX
3. Irving, TX
4. SoCal

Four TV shows that I watch:
1. Project Runway
2. The Office
3. How I Met Your Mother
4. The Amazing Race

Four places I have been:
1. The Grand Canyon
2.Catalina Island
3. Boston, MA
4. Nashville, TN

People who e-mail me (regularly):
1. CB
2. Jill
3. hubs
4. mom

Four of my favorite foods:
1. cheese
2. ice cream
3. lasagna
4. tacos

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. Chicago GTG
2. Europe
3. on a trip with the hubs
4. shopping!

Four friends I think will respond:
1. April
2. Dawn
3. BB
4. Alanna

Things I am looking forward to:
1. Europe trip
2. BFF's wedding in June
3. buying a home
4. making babies someday

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Fast Fancy Chicken

Fast Fancy Chicken

I saw this recipe on a few fellow foodie's blogs. They all raved about how great it was and that their hubbies loved it. It looked easy and fancy (hence the name) so I thought, "I feel like chicken tonight!"

Recipe from Kat (via CB). Pictures from my kitchen. (Check out that steam!)

6 boneless skinless chicken breast

6 slices Swiss cheese
1/4 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups herb stuffing mix
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine

Pre-heat oven to 350. Place chicken in lightly greased 9×13 baking dish. Top each piece with a slice of Swiss cheese. Arrange mushrooms over cheese. Mix soup and wine and pour over chicken. Sprinkle stuffing mix over top and drizzle with butter. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes. (I served with steamed squash.)

REVIEW: I really liked this dish and so did the hubs. He gave it a solid A. YAY!

Lemon bars

A coworker of mine has been begging me to bring in lemon bars to work. So, I decided to spend this rainy Sunday afternoon making these tasty bars. We ate a few and I'll take some to work tomorrow.

Recipe from JoyofBaking. Pictures from my kitchen.

Lemon Bars
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in the center of oven. Grease with butter (or use cooking spray) a 8x8 inch pan.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup confectioners (powered) sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
FOR CRUST: In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flour and salt and beat until the dough just comes together. Press into the bottom of your greased pan and bake for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool while you make the filling.

1 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (approximately two large lemons)
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
FOR FILLING: In your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the sugar and eggs until nice and smooth. Add the lemon juice and zest and stir to combine. Fold in the flour. Pour the filling over the shortbread crust and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the filling is set. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

TO SERVE: Cut into squares or triangles and dust with powdered sugar. These are best eaten the day they are made but can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for a few days.

Yield: 16 - 2 inch squares or 32 triangles.

REVIEW: Yum x 10. The hubs graded them an A- which is good since he's not a fan of lemon. YAY!
PS I should say that this is the best shortbread crust I've ever tasted and it was so flaky and a perfect compliment to sweet and subtly tart lemon filling. :)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Jolly... January?

I've been meaning to post my favorite foodie gifts from Christmas. It's been nearly a month and I am finally getting around to it. See! I am already following through on my resolutions. ::raising roof::

I got three awesome foodie gifts this year:

I received this amazing set of vintage Pyrex bowls from GMIL!

These bowls have been in production since the late 1940's and from the markings on the bottom, I found out that my set is from the 1960's. So cool! Growing up, my grandma had a set of these Pyrex bowls and when I see them, I think of her. I'm not sure whatever happened to her set but at least I have my own now to remember her by. I love them and I love my GMIL who gave them to me!

Another fab gift, also from my MIL. (She spoils me.)

The teacup and saucer are
depression glass and match my beautiful candy dish which MIL gave me for a shower gift. She's so sweet! She and GMIL collect depression glass and they chose this really groovy pattern for me. It is called Ultra Marine Swirl and I just love it! The only problem is that I've become addicted to searching Ebay for Pyrex and Ultra Marine Swirl goodies. Hi, my name is Rachel and I'm addicted to vintage dishes. Hi Rachel!

The color is a bit off in the picture but you can see how the dishes match my vintage vinyl table. :)

Last, and certainly not least, my good friend
CB sent me the most amazing book about my most favorite food ever!

CHEESE! OMG, I love this book so much. I have already read through it a few times and found some great recipes to try. I hope to give them a whirl very soon. Thank you, thank you CB. You rule!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Where's the beef?

The hubs and I hardly ever eat beef but here's another standard when we're craving the red meat. Can you tell my family lives in Texas since (nearly) all the recipes I have from growing up include beef?

No Peek Beef
1 1/2 lbs beef tips or stew meat.
1 pkg of Lipton onion soup mix (the dry kind)
1 can celery soup
10 oz club soda

Spread meat in bottom of 8" square baking dish. Sprinkle soup mix over top, spoon can soup over top and pour club soda over top. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 2 1/2 hours at 350 degrees. DO NOT PEEK WITH BAKING! Serve over rice or noodles. Makes wonderful gravy.

This is also one of the easiest recipes ever and the hubs loves it!

Back to Blog

So, I've gotten some flack recently about my online presence (or lack thereof). I mean jeez people, I work at least 10 hours per day AND go to school full time AND do wifey stuffs. Gimme a break! I kid, I kid. I need to be better about blogging and therefore resolve to do so! Call it a Chinese New Year Resolution! (That's coming up, right?)

Since I haven't taken any food pics in a long time, I figured I would blog about a couple of my family recipes that I make frequently. The next time I make them, I'll post a pic and you all can ooh and aah over my culinary prowess. Cool?

Here are a few tried and true standards from my kitchen to yours. Enjoy!

Texas Style Beef Brisket
4-5 lbs Brisket
1 1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup vinegar (white)
1/2 cup or 1/2 medium onion chopped fine
1 tablespoon Worcester sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 bay leaf crushed
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Wipe beef dry. Rub with salt. Combine other ingredients. Place on double thickness of alum foil. Pour ingredients over brisket and wrap tight with foil.

Cook 300 degrees for 4 to 4 1/2 hours. For over 5lbs or more cook no more than 350 degrees for 5 hours.

Note: Brisket can be placed in pan and covered tightly with foil, since there can be a nice amount of juice.

My moms note: I mix about 2 cups of the juice with BBQ sauce to make my own sauce.

Monday, January 7, 2008

It took getting tagged...

It took getting tagged for me to finally set aside some time and do a little blogging..

Nikki, the culinary queen tagged me and I must do as she says...

OK now on to question answering..
What were you doing 10 years ago?
Ten years ago was one of the worst times of my life. I had been in terrible car accident several months prior and was still recovering. Thank goodness all *that* is over!
What were you doing 1 year ago? Last January I was getting ready to plan an awesome wedding - mine!

Five snacks you enjoy:
1. Cheese
2. Cottage Cheese
3. Fruit
4. Popcorn
5. Raw veggies

Five songs that you know all the lyrics to:

Since I know lots of lyrics I will post songs for which I should be ashamed for knowing all the words...
1. Achy Breaky Heart
2. Living on a Prayer
3. Careless Whisper
4. Ice Ice Baby
5. Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:
1. Buy a house
2. Buy a few new things :D
3. Invest
4. Take a vacation
5. Make some babies

Five bad habits:
Only five??
1. Oversleeping

2. Not finishing my knitting projects when I start them
3. Procrastination (which includes this survey)
4. Snacking all the freaking time!
5. Not updating my blog

Five things you like doing:
1. Sleeping (preferably with the hubs)
2. Eating - see above bad habits
3. Knitting - see about bad habits
4. Reading
5. Hanging with friends and laughing our hineys' off!

Five things you would never wear again:
1. Acid wash jeans

2. Jellies
3. Braces
4. Overalls (unless preggers. They are only cute on toddlers and preggers)
5. 4 inch heels. I can't :(

Five favorite toys:
1. KA Mixer
2. All my knitting goodies
3. DVR
4. Hubs...can't think of 5...

I'm supposed to tag some friends but I think everyone who would possibly read this has already been tagged.